Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Kids in Iraq camps dream big, but they can’t enroll in school

AFP reports:

Maareb has big dreams, but she may never get to realize them. Every day, when her friends attend class in the Iraqi displacement camp they call home, she stays behind.

The makeshift primary school in the dusty Hammam al-Alil 2 camp in Iraq’s north opened earlier this year, but several thousand displaced children are unable to access it.

“I want to go to school with my friends, but I’m not allowed because I don’t have an ID,” says the seven-year-old, her plaited hair dangling down her back.

Click here for the entire story

Drones for Dinars, not Dollars

Arin Kumar Ghosh writes for Small Wars Journal:

After a string of alarming defeats to ISIS in 2014, the Iraqi Armed Forces rebounded to ultimately evict ISIS from Iraq by the end of 2017. The military ballooned to 2 million serving as Iraq finally got a much deserved rest after shattering the dreams of ISIS, or so they thought. Iraq continues to be at risk of every political disease a nation can be infected with: terrorism, militancy, sectarianism, and a slew of other issues. Outstanding political issues with post-ISIS emerging terrorist organizations, the Kurds to the north, coupled with an uneasy arrangement with Iran in the post, non-ISIS threat centric region, beckon Iraq not to repeat the same steps which allowed ISIS to gain so much ground in the first place.

One of the key umbrellas that shields all the political plagues that could topple a future Baghdad administration lies in its future counter insurgency (COIN) planning. Part of Iraq’s COIN strategy has more recently been to conduct F-16 airstrikes against Daesh positions, including in neighboring Syria as Iraq tries to insulate against sub state existential threats – but this strategy will not prevent the inevitable. The real threat to Iraq’s future stability is from inside its borders. In this struggle, the ability of the armed forces will be tested to contain a future rise of ISIS type elements or the rise of organized sectarian enemies.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge

Ben Taub writes for The New Yorker:

For three years, the Islamic State controlled half of Syria and a third of Iraq, a swath of territory approximately the size of Great Britain, which included millions of people. Several members of its senior leadership had been high-level military and intelligence officers in Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime; they combined the structural prowess of a police state with the cosmic certainty of radical jihadism. The group blew up mosques and ancient archeological sites, and pursued a campaign of ethnic cleansing through mass murder and sexual slavery. It conscripted local bureaucrats, doctors, and teachers, often on pain of death, and devoted enormous effort to radicalizing a generation of children and inuring them to violence, suffering, and loss. At the height of its success, in 2014, there was a real possibility that ISIS would capture Baghdad, and the Iraqi state would collapse. Now, more than a year after ISIS lost Mosul—its largest source of legitimacy, wealth, and power—hundreds of thousands of civilians are suffering at the hands of their liberators. Anyone with a perceived connection to ISIS, however tenuous or unclear, is being killed or cast out of society.

Click here for the entire story

On Iraq’s border with Syria, Iran-backed militia warily eye U.S. forces

John Davison writes for Reuters:

From a desert hillside guarded by Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitaries, commander Qasim Muslih can spot Islamic State hideouts across the frontier in Syria. But he also keeps a wary eye on U.S. warplanes soaring overhead.

“The Americans are spying on us,” he said, squinting skywards. “But we can hold the borders. We’ll fight whoever lays a finger on Iraq and its holy shrines.”

The fighters Muslih commands are part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a grouping of mostly Shi’ite militias backed by Iran, which the United States regards as the biggest threat to security in the Middle East.

Click here for the entire story

Baghdad’s Green Zone reopens: ‘The politicians inside are sleeping on money’

Simona Foltyn writes for The Guardian:

Kareem Talal twice helped to bring down the concrete walls surrounding Baghdad’s Green Zone.

In 2016 he was among thousands of angry protesters loyal to the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who broke into the fortified enclave that houses government institutions and foreign embassies.

And in a recent – and this time legitimate – effort to dismantle the barriers, Talal was part of a team of municipality workers who removed concrete blocks in the lead-up to the partial reopening of the central district last Monday.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq begins rebuilding of Mosul’s Al Nuri Mosque

The National reports:

Iraq began rebuilding Mosul’s Al Nuri Mosque on Sunday, laying the cornerstone of a UAE-funded project to restore the national treasure destroyed by ISIS last year.

The twelfth century mosque and its famous leaning minaret – nicknamed Al Hadba or “the hunchback”– adorns Iraq’s 10,000 dinar note. It gained international notoriety in 2014 as the location where Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi declared his ISIS “caliphate”.

In June 2017, as Iraqi security forces advanced to within 50 metres of the mosque in the closing days of the battle for Mosul, ISIS destroyed it. Reluctant to suffer a symbolic defeat by withdrawing, ISIS fighters demolished the building with explosives and attempted to blame the destruction on coalition air strikes.

Click here for the entire story

Ahmad Chalabi and the Great Man Theory of History

Richard Hanania writes for War on the Rocks:

Last month was the third anniversary of the death of Ahmad Chalabi. It came only a few days after what was the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which passed with a vote of 360 to 38 in the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate. This bill was unlike any other act of Congress in American history. Usually, even when openly hostile towards a regime, the United States maintains an ambiguous position on regime change. But now, without declaring war, the president was given the authority to select “Iraqi democratic opposition organizations” to receive up to $97 million of American assistance to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

While other Western countries sought an easing of sanctions against Saddam, the United States never did, although it is difficult to know whether this was in part because of the Iraq Liberation Act itself or simply due to of the state of elite American opinion. Nonetheless, the Iraq Liberation Act basically made political rapprochement with Saddam Hussein impossible and turned him into a permanent enemy of the United States. After 9/11, when members of the Bush administration were convinced that the attacks of that day required a muscular response against terrorists and their supporters, they turned their focus to Iraq.

How did elite American opinion become so unified about Saddam Hussein? Surely it was in part because of his own behavior, including massive human rights violations. Yet other Western democracies took a softer stance and, indeed, even the United States takes less stark position when it comes to other autocracies with atrocious human rights records such as China. Even after Saddam invaded Kuwait, Americans generally supported President George H.W. Bush when he decided not to march to Baghdad, as demonstrated by his sky-high approval ratings at the time. What changed between 1991 and 1998, hardening Washington’s position and making Saddam such an appealing target for American leaders after 9/11? And what can Chalabi and the Iraq Liberation Act teach us about regime change and American attempts to remake Middle Eastern societies more generally?

Click here for the entire story

Turkey vows to keep striking PKK targets in Iraq

AP reports:

Turkey says it will continue to defend itself against terrorists after its strikes against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq sparked criticism from Baghdad.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saturday that Turkey expected neighboring Iraq to fulfill its responsibilities in combatting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. He says Turkey will invoke its “legitimate right to self-defense” if Iraq “does not do what’s necessary.”

Iraq summoned Turkey’s ambassador on Friday to protest Turkish air raids on Iraq’s Sinjar and Makhmour mountains, where the PKK operates. The group has waged an insurgency inside Turkey for more than three decades but also fought against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Click here for the entire story

Nobel laureate Murad to build hospital in her hometown in Iraq

Reuters reports:

Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman held as a sex slave by Islamic State militants who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said on Friday she intended to use the prize money to build a hospital for victims of sexual abuse in her hometown.

The Yazidi survivor was speaking to a crowd of hundreds in Sinjar, her hometown in northern Iraq.

“With the money I got from the Nobel Peace prize, I will build a hospital in Sinjar to treat ill people, mainly widows and women who were exposed to sexual abuses by Islamic State militants,” she told the crowd and gathered journalists.

Click here for the entire story

Dead Land: Islamic State’s Deliberate Destruction of Iraq’s Farmland

Amnesty International reports:

One year after Iraq declared military victory over the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) our report finds that IS’s deliberate destruction of Iraq’s rural environment continues to have debilitating effects on poor, small-holder farmers. The research focuses on the area around Sinjar, scene to some of the most extensive destruction. Irrigation wells were often sabotaged with rubble, oil, or other foreign objects, and pumps, cables, generators and transformers stolen or destroyed. Efforts to hold IS responsible under international law should include these specific crimes. Meanwhile, Iraq’s government should provide farmers and former farmers with urgent assistance to recommence their livelihoods.

Click here for the entire story